Prince of Persia
Prince of Persia back to square one!?
You see it all too often: success stories end a silent death after x amount of repetitions of what originally made it successful. Look at Need for Speed or – in my opinion – Command & Conquer and even Splinter Cell starts gets nearer to that point. Sometimes it’s due to a new development team, sometimes a game just arrives way too late, but often the cause is a lack of daring from the developer and publisher. “Never change a winning team” is sometimes said but nobody likes to play or pay twice for the same game. Or do you?
With the reincarnation of the Prince of Persia trilogy that was finished only a couple of years ago, Ubisoft made a daring move. Easily they could have chosen to make a new pr/sequel that would have brought some quick money in but instead the choice was made to introduce a scarfed prince, a completely new storyline and even a daring graphical technique: cell-shading. The risk of a (financial) disaster as a result was big, certainly when considering that the game was delivered without DRM as “experiment” to see whether lack of copy protection indeed has an impact on sales. Ubisoft, you already gained my respect, now all we need is a decent game.
The storyline is completely separated from the previous trilogy and focuses almost solely on the two main characters. During his travels through the desert the nameless prince meets the charming and sexy-dressed (but almost boobless) Elika who’s being chased by a bunch of soldiers. quickly it appears they’re under the command of her father who begs her to return to him. While she brings the prince closer to the palace where the dark god Ahriman has been locked up for thousands of years, the god gets liberated (how could it be any different?). Charming Elika manages to convince our prince to help her in the battle against the forces of evil by going out to look for the fertile fields that once surpassed the dark magic.
Where in previous games it was the prince who had a magical power this time it’s Elika. For some reason she’s blessed with the powers of Ahriman’s nemesis, allowing her slight telepathic powers and short periods of flying. Throughout the levels new powers are unlocked but they can only be used in certain predetermined places. Simply said Elika fulfills the role of the Sword of Time from the previous games, which the prince used to revert time. When the prince now falls or is in trouble Elika will fly up to him and place him back on the ground. The lack of a limit on the amount of rescue attempts unfortunately makes that the prince can never die which makes the game extremely simple.
The gameplay limits itself to the classic running and jumping as we’re used from Prince of Persia, combined with collecting light seeds that grow Elika’s powers. To conquer the areas that can be finished in a totally non-linear way a number of special powers – which are unlocked by a predetermined amount of light seeds – are needed in no specific order. Next to the occasional puzzle the game also has enemies and this is where things go wrong. Four main hostiles each return six times but the space between areas is almost empty. On top of that smaller parts can be skipped if the prince manages to get to a spawn point quickly enough and destroys the half-formed enemy.
It’s overly clear that the controls are developed for console and then were ported to keyboard and mouse without too much effort. Everything in the game is based on timely pressing key sequences, both while running and jumping as well as with fighting. It takes some getting used to knowing which sequences give good combos as their duration has an impact on how much damage the prince or Elika do. During the tutorial and also often during the actual game, however, often we get hints with color codes (green-blue-yellow-red) which go along with the controls on the X360 controller. Those that have a modern controller can best use it.
The only things that’s left for me to say is how the breautiful graphical style and animation have captured my heart. Regions that are affected by Ahriman’s influence are displayed almost in a monochrome way with only red and purple accents, but when corruption is expelled the landscape literally gets magically transformed in a colorful pastel of warm colors. Véry good. Also the music, again by Inon Zur and Stuart Chatwood by the way, is of high quality and nicely manages to go along with the setting of the game. The voice-overs contain enough dynamics but unfortunately doesn’t really convince at certain times.
This remake of Prince of Persia has become a good, though too simple, game which fans of the previous titles will no doubt love. By toning down the fights to the bare minimum I can summarize the gameplay to “seach & collect”. As such not bad but it does tend to bore after a while. The graphical beauty is pleasing to the eye and makes this game a great adventure